'I Was Happy She Wasn't There': How Hingis' Absence Helped Serena Win First WTA Title

'I Was Happy She Wasn't There': How Hingis' Absence Helped Serena Win First WTA Title

by Nurein Ahmed

Serena Williams recently reflected on her title-winning week at the Open Gaz de France, her first at the Tour level.

Serena turned pro in October 1995, the same month she played her first professional event in Quebec City, Canada, at the age of 14. But she had to wait at least four years before she went on to lift her maiden WTA title in France.

In 1999, the legendary American, still in her teenage years, won the seventh edition of the Open Gaz de France, which was classified as a Tier II tournament. She defeated Asa Svensson, Nathalie Tauziat, Julie Halard-Decugis, and future World No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo on her way to the title.

Hingis, who was a year older than Serena, was the top seed at the tournament and the World No. 1. But the Swiss, already an established top-level performer at the time, was knocked out in the quarterfinal by Mauresmo.

During a guest appearance on the YouTube channel First We Feast, the 42-year-old shared her mindset a quarter of a century ago, stating that she was more focused on winning tournaments than beating Hingis.

"I think at that point of time in my career, it was more or less about winning tournaments. At the time, Martina Hingis was so good that I didn't really think about beating her. I was like, 'Ok, let me just start with this instead of taking on the biggest and the best."

However, Serena was candid when she admitted that Hingis' shock defeat in the last eight aided her cause to win her first WTA title, as she would have likely lost to her had they met in the final.

"She wasn't in the tournament. I was probably happy that she wasn't there because she, probably at that point maybe would have won. Maybe not. But it was also good to just win it in a bit."


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